As an international student on an F-1 visa, it is important that you understand and comply with the immigration regulations to avoid problems that can interfere with your studies. It is the responsibility of each student to stay informed and maintain a lawful F-1 status during your stay in the United States. A violation of the immigration regulations could jeopardize your F-1 status, and potentially lead to accrual of days of “unlawful presence,” which has severe consequences on your eligibility to remain or return to the United States.
Be sure to read the guidelines below carefully and contact WCM-ISS@med.cornell.edu if you have any questions or concerns.
All new and transfer students are required to attend a mandatory check-in session during Orientation, where you will review the requirements of F-1 status. Approximately two weeks prior to your program start date, you will receive an email with instructions regarding the check-in process.
F-1 students must register for full-time enrollment every semester for the duration of your studies. Failure to enroll full-time and register for courses for each semester/term in a timely manner could jeopardize your stay in the U.S. and impact your continuing eligibility for F-1 benefits. Full-time enrollment differs from program to program, so be sure to check with you program.
F-1 students are required to receive authorization from your program of study and notify us before dropping below full-time, withdrawing from the program or taking a leave of absence.
If you are unable to meet or maintain full-time enrollment during your course of studies, you may be eligible to request for a Reduced Course Load authorization.
Working without authorization is a serious violation to your F-1 student status.
Students must report the following changes within 10 days of the change.
This information must be reported to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a timely manner to maintain a lawful F-1 status.
Students who have applied for post-completion OPT will receive an email from SEVP Portal to create an account once your OPT is approved. Thus, make sure to check the spam folder. For instructions on how to use the SEVP Portal, please visit SEVP Portal Help
It is important to make copies and keep all documents related to your immigration status in a safe place. You may need them in the future for USCIS applications.
Students are responsible to keep their I-20 up-to-date and inform us in a timely manner on the following changes. It is the student’s responsibility to keep all I-20s (include previous I-20s) for your permanent record.
Do not let your passport expire. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months at all times.
You may remain in the U.S. even if your visa is expired. However, if you travel abroad, you must renew your F-1 visa before returning to the U.S. We strongly recommend that you renew your visa in your home country whenever possible. Attempting to renew your visa in a third country (not your home country or U.S.) can cause application delays or rejections.
International students in F-1 status have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S. to prepare for departure once you have:
During the grace period, you may not work or re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status if you did not apply for a post-completion OPT.
An F-1 student who has been granted an authorized early withdrawal by their program of study and DSO may remain in the United States for up to 15 days following the withdrawal date noted in SEVIS.
F-1 students must file U.S. tax returns every year even if you had no U.S. income. Every student’s situation is different because it is dependent upon your nonimmigrant status, the amount of time you have spent in the U.S., type of income, and if your country has a tax treaty with the United States. Please contact HR Immigration Team (email@example.com) for all tax related matters.